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november 2020

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Investment

African Guarantee Fund Secures $20 Million Capital Increase for Green SME Financing

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African Guarantee Fund CEO, Jules Ngankam and IFU’s CEO, Torben Huss (Source: African Guarantee Fund)

African Guarantee Fund has today received a capital increase of USD 20 million from the Danish Investment Fund for Developing Countries (IFU) to facilitate green SME financing in Africa. The capital increase is partially financed by the Danish Government, as part of the Danish “COVID-19 Development Assistance” package. Including the additional USD 20 million, the total Danish investment in AGF amounts to USD 72 million.

The capital increment into the African Guarantee Fund will increase the Fund’s capacity to unlock financing for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in Africa. SMEs in the continent have experienced a deterioration in their creditworthiness as a result of the economic impact of Covid-19. The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa 2020 survey reports business closure, lack of operational cashflow and a drop-in demand as the top challenges facing African SMEs as a result of the pandemic.

“The initial Danish capital injection into the African Guarantee Fund not only generated economic and social impact but also helped to attract more capital from other Development Finance Institutions. AGF is currently supporting financial institutions and SMEs to contain the impact of Covid-19 and to eventually recover in the post-covid context. Our target is to keep SMEs afloat while maintaining their workforce; and to ensure SMEs’ green transition. With this capital increment, our capacity to offer more green guarantees to financial institutions is enhanced and will facilitate sustainable financing for green transition in Africa” said AGF’s CEO, Jules Ngankam.

“Private SMEs are vital for creating and safeguarding decent jobs in Africa, but they face huge challenges in the Covid-19 crisis. AGF is well placed to ease the negative consequences and help African SMEs to build back better and greener. IFU´s 20 million dollars investment provide funding of SMEs´ green transition, making more companies fit for a low carbon climate resilient future and create jobs. We are confident that our investment will attract other investors to exploit the proven potential of AGF filling the huge gap in SME financing in Africa,” said IFU’s CEO, Torben Huss.

AGF’s key objective is to reduce the SME financing gap currently estimated at more than USD 300 billion. With IFU’s capital increase, AGF will be able to achieve even more economic and social impact, given the investment will unlock more than USD 400 million of financing for SMEs.

AGF

 

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Technology

Buying Bitcoin: The risks and how to overcome them

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Bitcoin is the most popular cryptocurrency. Although decentralised and fairly accessible to most investors and traders, there are some inherent risks associated with digital currencies. These need to be addressed in order that people can devise the proper risk mitigation strategies in case they wish to buy bitcoin and hold the crypto asset as an investment or trade it.

1. Crypto scams

Newcomers in the crypto space are usually the primary targets for both low and high level bad actors operating in the shadows. These are typically individuals or entities that exploit people through various communication channels including social media platforms such as Facebook, Telegram, YouTube, WhatsApp and Twitter or via emails. They will generally sell captivating stories about how they have made astronomical gains through trading or investing in bitcoin. They would then solicit unsuspecting victims, proselytise, offer them their so-called ‘expertise’ and promise to provide lucrative profits.

Other scammers convince people to join pyramid schemes. Both generally use jargon like ‘cloud mining’ or ‘algorithmic trading’ to confuse targets into thinking that they know some secrets that could also make the targets large sums of money. Other major threats come in the form of rogue exchanges which pose as legitimate platforms but are in fact bucket shops for illicit activities.

How to avoid the risk: The ultimate way to avoid these scammers is to buy bitcoin from trusted and secure cryptocurrency exchanges like Remitano. Remitano uses a secure escrow system to ensure that the seller sends your bitcoin before they receive your payment since bitcoin transactions are irreversible.

If you must buy BTC via a peer-to-peer exchange using social media, then make sure you verify the legitimacy of the parties with which you transact. There are some paid social media groups that apparently use an escrow system to monitor transactions between buyers and sellers but this means of buying bitcoin is generally not recommended.

2. Market volatility

Bitcoin is currently one of the most volatile assets in existence. Its volatility is an intrinsic risk that traders dread. The price of bitcoin could swing up or down by as much as over 20% within an hour. When prices drop suddenly and sharply, most novice traders or investors sell-off in a panic and most do so at a loss.

Bitcoin’s price movements like most traded assets is greatly affected by market news. For instance if a reputable investor or esteemed entity invests in bitcoin, what typically follows is price appreciation. And when there is news about a crypto exchange hack for instance, people panic sell and the price of bitcoin plummets.

How to avoid the risk: To prevent unnecessary losses after your bitcoin purchase, either establish buy and sell targets and stick to them so that you don’t react to every piece of news or get swayed by market sentiment. You can also dollar-cost average or if in South Africa, Rand-cost average. This means that you make your purchases consistently to a set schedule, irrespective of the price. This is generally good for those looking to invest long-term since the logic behind the strategy is that the average purchase price over time will work out to be better than trying to perfectly time the market. Let’s say you want to buy 1 BTC, you can buy it in increments of 10 i.e. buy 0.1 BTC at different intervals.

Volatility is a risk but day traders take advantage of the volatility to make profits. Day traders try to read the market and predict the price movements of bitcoin, opening and closing trades within a day.

3. Cybertheft

Bitcoin trading is powered by blockchain technology and the internet. The fact that it depends on the internet makes it susceptible to cyber attacks. One of the serious risks is that your wallet can be hacked. If your wallet gets hacked, you might not be able to retrieve the stolen bitcoin. There have been different reports about huge amounts of bitcoin lost to cyber theft. Exchanges are also susceptible to hacking, so if your wallet is hosted on such an exchange, your funds can be at risk.

It is also important for crypto market participants to ensure that they don’t misplace the private keys or seed phrases to their crypto wallets.

How to avoid the risk: To ensure your funds’ safety, ensure you trade on a reliable and trusted platform such as Remitano and open a private wallet address. Offline wallets are the most secure private wallets out there, so ensure you get one. You should also activate the two-factor authentication and encryption on your crypto wallet. Having a multi-signature feature and wallet backup will also help you secure your crypto assets.

4. Government regulation

Although the South African government is yet to regulate the use or trading of cryptocurrencies, it may still decide to impose a ban on bitcoin transactions at any time. The Nigerian government recently stated that it will be placing a ban on cryptocurrency transactions. Even though it is unlikely cryptocurrencies will be outlawed, there’s still a risk to consider.

Conclusion

Buying bitcoin is a straightforward process but also risky when you don’t understand the basics. Volatility is a major concern for bitcoin and cryptocurrencies and new market entrants ought to be extra vigilant. Security and regulatory issues are some of the other risks associated with bitcoin investing and trading. Therefore you need to seek a better understanding of how the crypto market works and the various risks involved. The rule of thumb when it comes to investing in general is – only invest what you are willing to lose. The same applies when you decide to buy bitcoin.

Article & Image source: Heath Muchena

 

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Legal Business

Developments in competition law in post-pandemic Africa

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Image Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

With the growth of economies across Africa, competition law has remained one of the key drivers for effective market participation, consumer protection and fair business practices. However, the global pandemic introduced new challenges for competition authorities in Africa and abroad, with each enforcer pursuing the most beneficial enforcement method for its national or regional jurisdiction.

According to Lerisha Naidu, Partner in Baker McKenzie’s Competition & Antitrust Practice in Johannesburg, “These efforts were aimed at curbing the persistence of unjustified price hikes, anti-competitive cooperation between competitors and other harmful business practices that sought to undermine competition. In addition to the urgent responses to the unprecedented impacts of the global COVID-19 crisis, competition authorities in countries and regions across Africa continued to introduce new laws and amend existing legislation as a sign of the rapidly increasing prioritisation of competition law enforcement on the continent.”

COVID-19 Responses

Competition authorities across the continent had already established strategies for maintaining competition and limiting instances of customer exploitation in their respective countries by early March 2020.

“Competition authorities in Kenya, Malawi, Mauritius, Namibia, Nigeria and South Africa reacted quickly to pandemic impacts by introducing new guidelines and regulations,” noted Angelo Tzarevski, a senior associate in Baker McKenzie’s Competition Practice in Johannesburg.

Amendments to existing laws

Various jurisdictions have recently strengthened their competition law regimes by way of amendments to the existing legislation or by introducing entirely new laws to facilitate their enforcement efforts.

“For example, Botswana’s Competition Act came into force at the end of 2018.  Kenya recently introduced a host of new laws, guidelines and rules that relate to buyer power, the valuation of assets in merger transactions, block exemption of certain mergers from notification, merger thresholds and filing fees, market definition, and new guidelines for the determination of administrative penalties. Ghana’s Draft Competition Bill is currently before parliament awaiting passage into law, and Egypt and Mauritius amended their competition legislation by introducing or giving effect to new provisions and regulations. In South Africa, price discrimination and buyer power provisions that were previously introduced by the Competition Amendment Act have since come into effect. Regulations were also issued to facilitate the interpretation and application of these provisions,” said Tzarevski.

In addition to country-specific regulation, a number of regional competition regulators in Africa are impacting domestic markets. Such regulators include the West African Economic Monetary Union (WAEMU), the East African Community (EAC), the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the Economic and Monetary Community of Central Africa (CEMAC). While not a regional regulator, the African Competition Forum, an association of African competition agencies, promotes competition policy awareness in Africa and the adoption of competition policies and laws. The Forum also facilitates regular contact between authorities, creating a platform for the sharing of best practice and domestic competition trends.

“African competition law continues to develop at a rapid pace, boosted by the implementation of protective strategies necessary during the peak of the pandemic. An increasing number of jurisdictions have adopted laws and regulations, established authorities, secured membership to regional antitrust regimes and ramped-up enforcement of suspected violations of prevailing competition laws at both domestic and regional levels.

As such, organisations transacting across borders in Africa must ensure they are compliant with a myriad of local and intersecting regional competition laws to avoid facing the wrath of the continent’s competition authorities. Access to standardised, cross-border information on the latest competition law developments in Africa has become essential for those transacting in the region,” added Naidu.

Baker McKenzie recently produced a comprehensive guide covering the latest developments in African competition law in 25 countries across the continent – An Overview of Competition & Antitrust Regulations and Developments in Africa: 2021

By Angela Matthewson for Baker McKenzie Johannesburg

 

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